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Archive for the 'my annual report' Category

At this point, we offer each of the following contestants 48 hours (until 16:30 PST 2009 February 5) to send a ranking of their top three picks to dan@mrmeyer.com (excluding their own). A ranking seems almost vulgar in light of all this great introspection and design but these prizes won't give themselves away, etc.


Sarah Cannon

I like not having the scale shown on these. Full confession, I did not track all of this data, so some of the numbers are guessed. My personal favorite slide is the one with the least fact behind it and my least favorite is the one where I can tell you the numbers exactly. Go figure.


Collette Cassinelli

… this year I used the opportunity to play around with Photoshop – something I never take the time to do.


Simon Job

With Sarah, our first child, born this year – her arrival and impact on our lives defines 2008. These 4 slides show just some of what’s been happening so far.


Fred Knauss

I'm going to side with Don Norman, and say that In a proper design, both are important. Though, if there is some imperfection, I think that having beautifully laid out information that is incomprehensible is worse than an eyesore that tells a good story.


Erick Lee


George Mayo


Alice Mercer

I only had two infographics. Why? I don’t keep a spreadsheet with the minutiae of my life. I know that some consider this useful, or therapeutic. In my family, it usually comes with a three letter acronym diagnosis from the DSM IV. No aspersions on Dan or Mr. Feltron, but I’m not into that.


Alby Reid


Sam Shah

I’m slightly disappointed with this set of slides I made because they don’t tell a story. My slides from last year (2007) told a story — of moving to NYC and changing careers. There was text which explained the stages of my year. This year my slides — hastily done — don’t tell a coherent story.


Claire Thompson Thomas


Ben Wildeboer

Luckily I’m just dorky enough to keep track of a few data sets of interest to me. I was also lucky to have a snow day today- otherwise these would probably not be complete.

We have entries from Collette Cassinelli, Simon Job, Fred Knauss, Alice Mercer, and Sam Shah (did I miss a trackback?) with five days remaining in competition1. I finished my own (out of competition) entry last night while recovering from a flu / bronchitis combo and posted it here.

I abandoned it, to a certain extent. My content means a lot to me, if only because I bothered to track the data all year long, but my design work is simply functional — a staid set of bar charts and line graphs. See you next time.


  1. Entry page here.

started my dy/dan 4 slide project. i might not finish… just not inspired and don't have knowledge of the tools to do this. — Sam Shah, who finished second place (!) last year.

I was shocked, frankly, we had twenty entries last year to what was a pretty demanding competition. I'm pushing my luck a second time only because I'm enjoying a fairly transcendent experience designing my own, the kind of happy nerdery you can't keep to yourself, you know?

I mean, this bar chart is sharp as a blade, right? Any guesses what month my long-distance girlfriend became my close-distance wife?

That's one of, like, sixteen visualizations I'm working on. We're looking for four. Possible data sources:

And, for the love, do not neglect PivotTables, your best offense against huge piles of data.

I hate to repeat myself like this but let's run this one again.

Throughout 2008 I tracked dozens of variables, most collected from categories of geographic location, recreation, food & beverage, and communication. I collected these data in an Excel file comprising 14 worksheets in excess of 100,000 cells. The process took minutes per day and that minimal investment is paying out huge returns here at the end of the year as I learn new techniques for data analysis, extrapolate conclusions from 2008 — some of which I knew intuitively while others surprised me — and represent them visually.

The work has been nothing short of exhilarating and I want to encourage you to undertake it also.

Instructions

  1. Design information in four ways to represent 2008 as you experienced it. This can mean:
    • four separate PowerPoint slides with one design apiece,
    • one JPEG with four designs gridded onto it,
    • an Excel spreadsheet inset with four charts,
    • etc.

    Feel free to use pies, bars, dots, bubbles, Sparklines, stacks, or designs of your own construction.

  2. Submit your designs. Either:
  3. Post your reflections either:
    • in the comments here, or
    • at your own blog.

Illustrative Examples

  1. Last year's entries.
  2. Nicholas Felton's 2008 Report, to which this content owes a debt1.

Deadline

  • Monday, February 2, 23h59, Pacific Standard Time

Judges

  • TBD

Prize

Prizes for First Place, First Runner Up, and People's Choice Award. Don't forget to declare your winnings next April, etc.

Legal

  • You own your images, though we'll post them here (attributed) and, in all likelihood, pick several apart.
  • Let's limit this to those with some demonstrable connection to education — students, teachers, professionals, edubloggers. Basically, no professional designers slumming it.

  1. To all the armchair graphic designers hating in the comments, time to give it a shot yerselves.

[BTW: the post-mortem.]

At the start of winter semester, maybe a month ago, I told them they'd have homework every night, even weekends.

I called it The Feltron Project. I showed 'em mine and asked them to identify the mathematical forms. I told them we were going to take their lives and make math out of them.

Track Your Life In Four Ways

I told them they had to track four variables this semester. I shared with them my own1:

  • where I've been [cities per day]
  • text messages sent / received [quantity per person per day]
  • movies I've watched [title per medium (dvd, theater, ipod) per day]
  • coffee drinks i've purchased [accessory per drink per location per day]

The Feltron Notebook

While they thought on it, we made Feltron notebooks: graph paper, folded, cut into quarters, and bound with repurposed file folders the last teacher left behind.

I showed them how I designed my own Feltron notebook (Coudal's Field Notes, natch) to maximize page use.

How Do We Grade Your Life?

We discussed grading. What would an A look like? An F? A C? I steered the conversation towards three criteria:

  • the interesting-ness of the variables chosen
  • their consistent tracking
  • their clear & pretty design

We discussed interesting and un-interesting variables. Some students are rocking this thing all semester long, counting calories, tracking everyone they text over a semester, tallying every ounce of everything they drink.

Other students are skating, tracking the number of days they're late to school, tracking the number of times they sneeze, etc.

We conferenced, each student and I, and I suggested changes, both to add value to their final project and to make the assignment easier for them2.

Checkpoints

This thing runs on bi-weekly checkpoints [pdf] where I move around the class and verify that everyone's keeping up.

One Indication This Assignment Wasn't Stupidly-Conceived

Not one student has taken exception to the workload. Several students, without my prompting, have integrated a notebook update into their daily classroom routine.

The Moment I Fell In Love With The Thing

One freshman decided to track the cigarettes she smoked each day. Not because she wanted to scandalize me or her classmates. She just "always kinda wondered."

One Month Later

I surveyed 99 students last week: "how much time do you spend updating your Feltron notebook each day?"

The average response was 5.5 minutes with a maximum of 31 minutes and a minimum of 0 minutes3.

Next Steps

  • I ordered a hard copy of Nicholas Felton's annual report (to which my assignment pays seeerious homage). We'll pass pages around and develop a written narrative of his year.
  • Then I'll fabricate entire data sets. eg. some girl's caffeine intake over the course of a semester. We'll run through several infodesigns and discuss which ones tell the most effective, truthful4 story. We'll use other data sets (eg. hours spent studying) to introduce some superficial correlation.
  • Uh. That's all I have.

The Big Questions

  • Do we make the graphs in Excel or work out the math by hand? One option gets 'em dirty with the math. One is more useful to their post-grad experience.
  • What do I do when a student comes to class a month into the project and claims her dog ate her Feltron notebook? The question, as of first period today, ain't hypothetical.

The Regret

I should've collaborated with someone here. I don't know another teacher, period, who's out there sweating the connection between language and math like I am here which makes The Feltron Project something of a blind jump off the high dive when it ain't altogether obvious that the pool is filled with water, thumbtacks, or nothing.


  1. Anyone crazy enough to try this with me: it's essential you play along with your students.
  2. For instance, 100 kids decided to track "TV Watched." "What does that mean?" I'd ask. "Uh." they'd reply. "So make it min/channel/day or min/show/day, whichever you prefer."
  3. No idea what the minimum's about.
  4. All better?

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